Commentary, Death Notices, Local, Obituaries, Park Forest

Park Forest Remembers Bonita Dillard

Bonita Dillard
Bonita Dillard. (VOPF)

Park Forest, IL-(ENEWSPF)- Former Park Forest Trustee Bonita Dillard, who served from 1999 to 2013, has passed. 

Dillard, a resident of Park Forest for over 50 years, was one of the first African-American women to serve on the Park Forest Board of Trustees when she was appointed to fill a vacancy in 1999. Trustee Dillard was elected by Park Forest citizens in 2000. She was subsequently re-elected in 2003, 2006 and 2009. 

Affectionately known as Bonita, she and her husband, Roy, were longtime Park Forest residents. They moved to the community in 1969. Prior to her service as Village Trustee, Mrs. Dillard was active with the Girl Scouts, local schools, and within the congregation at Faith United Protestant Church.

Her commitment to Park Forest was always evident as she served for decades in the Park Forest Kiwanis Club, where she served as Club President and on the Executive Board for the Dr. Charles E. Gavin Foundation. Together with Mr. Dillard, they were instrumental in establishing the Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Conference Room at Park Forest’s Freedom Hall and in hosting numerous concerts and special events in the building’s theater.

Prior to her appointment to the Board of Trustees, Mrs. Dillard served on the Park Forest Planning Commission from 1990 to 1994. 

Justice Mathais Delort with Park Forest Trustees Bonita Dillard, Gary Kopycinski, Mayor John Ostenburg
Trustee Bonita Dillard, Judge Mathais Delort, Mayor John Ostenburg, and Trustee Gary Kopycinski in December 2012.

Mrs. Dillard, a 1999 Park Forest Hall of Fame inductee, was 83 years of age at the time of her passing. She is survived by her husband, Roy, and children, Marla and Roderick.

The above is the tribute announcement of Mrs. Dillard’s passing. On a personal note, let me add that it was a privilege to serve with Bonita. She had an incredible, dry wit if I’m describing her unique sense of humor correctly. I sat next to her on the dais and always appreciated her calming demeanor. Nothing seemed to rattle Bonita.

She once told me, “You notice I don’t say much,” and she did not during our public meetings. She preferred to observe and vote, keeping many of her comments to herself.

But she always came prepared. When our agendas were still on paper, Bonita arrived with hers marked up and annotated. When we moved to electronic agendas, the same was true. Her PDFs were marked, highlighted, and she was ready.

And she listened. Bonita gave her thoughtful attention to every person who spoke before the board, whether a staff member, someone with a stake or interest in an agenda item, or a member of the public voicing a concern. She was careful in her comments, even to fellow board members.

I honestly do not recall her ever raising her voice or speaking in anger. Not once.

Bonita Dillard was a person easy to respect and trust.

We are less for her absence but blessed for the time she was with us.

“Park Forest salutes Bonita Dillard for her long and dedicated service to the community and expresses heartfelt condolences to all who feel her loss,” the Village of Park Forest concluded its tribute.

Service arrangements:

Location of services: Leak and Sons Funeral Home, 18400 S. Pulaski, Country Club Hills, IL 60478

  • Visitation is June 6 from 6 to 8 p.m.
  • Wake is June 7 at 1 p.m. followed by funeral services at 2 p.m.